Rainbow-catching waveguide could revolutionize energy technologies

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By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technology More efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy. All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research.

By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technology.

More efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy.

All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research at the University at Buffalo.

The work, published March 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, explores the use of a nanoscale microchip component called a "multilayered waveguide taper array" that improves the chip's ability to trap and absorb light.

Unlike current chips, the waveguide tapers (the thimble-shaped structures pictured above) slow and ultimately absorb each frequency of light at different places vertically to catch a "rainbow" of wavelengths, or broadband light.

"We previously predicted the multilayered waveguide tapers would more efficiently absorb light, and now we've proved it with these experiments," says lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, UB assistant professor of electrical engineering. "This advancement could prove invaluable for thin-film solar technology, as well as recycling waste thermal energy that is a byproduct of industry and everyday electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops."

Each multilayered waveguide taper is made of ultrathin layers of metal, semiconductors and/or insulators. The tapers absorb light in metal dielectric layer pairs, the so-called hyperbolic metamaterial. By adjusting the thickness of the layers and other geometric parameters, the tapers can be tuned to different frequencies including visible, near-infrared, mid-infrared, terahertz and microwaves.

The structure could lead to advancements in an array of fields.

For example, there is a relatively new field of advanced computing research called on-chip optical communication. In this field, there is a phenomenon known as crosstalk, in which an optical signal transmitted on one waveguide channel creates an undesired scattering or coupling effect on another waveguide channel. The multilayered waveguide taper structure array could potentially prevent this.

Written By: ScienceDaily
continue to source article at sciencedaily.com

9 COMMENTS

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #2 by Light Wave:

        I’m a Rainbow too…. to the rescue…. here I am…..

        name that tune..

        She’s a rainbow: Rolling Stones From one of my favorite and I think much under appreciated albums of all time.

        Sorry Red – as much as I love your song too …its not that one !!!

        • In reply to #5 by Light Wave:

          Sorry Red – as much as I love your song too …its not that one !!!

          Oh well, I enjoyed remembering it anyway, it’s amazing how I can’t remember the name of someone I just met but some random reference can keep a song from the 60′s stuck in my head all day. I just went to the grocery store and was singing (probably a bit too loudly, people aren’t supposed to look happy when they shop) “she comes in colors in the air… oh everywhere,… she’s like a rainbow…” People were looking at me funny… that happens a lot.

    • In reply to #2 by Light Wave:

      I’m a Rainbow too…. to the rescue…. here I am…..

      name that tune..

      Sun is Shining – Bob Marley and Funkstar deluxe…”I want you to know…I’m a Rainbow too”…

  1. What a glorious image.

    Heard some good news today; global warming is now official and no one is going to be immune from it.

    At last the scientific community is asserting itself and hopefully some concerted action will be taken.

    Anyway, I’m relieved that the critical mass of evidence is now firmly in the public domain, the equivocation can cease and policies can be formed and measures taken to deal with the phenomenon.

    In any case it’ll be interesting to see what transpires.

  2. If this pans out then we will have to ask ourselves this question. How many decades ago might we have discovered this if we hadn’t been evading doing something about getting off fossil fuels? In this country even just having a coating on windows that lets in visible light but no heat would be marvelous.

    Likewise for medicine and stem cell research, I often wonder if we might have begun to crack some of these problems but for religious zealotry. When anesthetics was developed the bias that suffering was part of the necessary process of childbirth prompted by the religious concept of Eve being made to suffer childbirth due to the original sin of eating a piece of forbidden fruit. How many women suffered unnecessarily due to this madness and how long would they have continued to if the Monarch at the time was not a child bearing woman?

    It’s clear to me that when we refuse to find solutions to problems we know we need to solve we don’t just stop the solution to the problem being solved we stop ourselves finding the solutions to problems we didn’t even appreciate there might be an answer to and problems we didn’t even know we had.

  3. This advancement could prove invaluable for thin-film solar technology,

    Shades that act as a power source. Nice. Add liquid crystal and a polarized layer and you can (amongst other things) have fast reacting glasses that adjust to lighting conditions. The only thing left would be to have them able to detect peril.

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